The business world is facing an ever-growing challenge: striking the balance between optimising employee productivity levels and providing job satisfaction. Here we explore workplace productivity and effective strategies to counteract challenges among remote workers in particular.
With recent waves of “The Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting,” companies are grappling with challenges that affect workplace productivity, as never before. These issues come at a time when organisations are having industry-wide mass layoffs.
Figures from Europe underpin these trends. In Q2 and Q3 2022, the UK saw historically high numbers of resignations, with more than 365,000 and 442,000 people leaving their jobs, respectively. A third of all German companies is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers due to The Great Resignation, with Gallup’s annual workplace study showing a record number of employees looking for new jobs, and 4 in 10 saying they would stop working if they could afford it. In France, the number of resignations reached a historically high level at the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022, with nearly 520,000 resignations per quarter, including 470,000 from permanent contracts.
Against this backdrop, the need for a content, productive workforce is higher than ever. Here are some actionable steps to increase workplace success while keeping employees engaged and satisfied:
Training, progression and autonomy
The argument for workers having a satisfactory work-life balance through allowing remote work carries weight insofar as employees have increased autonomy over their time and also avoid commutes and distractions that come with an in-workplace environment. With fewer interruptions, they can concentrate on producing high quality work to meet company objectives.
It may be tempting and inevitable to give employees additional tasks (particularly if the workforce is shrinking) without the additional change in title or pay to reflect the increase in responsibility. In other words, a Quiet Promotion. Additional tasks should be aligned with each employee’s career progression plans and extra responsibilities, and achievements should be compensated. This recognition helps communicate to employees that their input and productivity are valued, and their efforts reap tangible rewards. Here, training, progression, and autonomy are part of creating a positive work environment.
Unlocking an employee’s digital experience
A remote employee’s digital experience —and improving it — is the key to unlocking staff productivity when working outside the office. Digital employee experience refers to the overall experience that employees have while using digital tools and technologies in the workplace.
Our research on workplace productivity shows that companies offering a poor digital experience can lose nearly one hour per week per employee through IT downtime alone. There are certain actions that HR teams, together with IT teams, can implement to help employees get the best out of their remote workplaces.
Technology is the first critical place to start as that is the interface through which an employee accesses their workplace. Fundamentals include ensuring that employees have the right technology (hardware and software) for their roles (and know how to use it) and empowering employees to report tech issues as soon as they occur. These factors are the foundation of pain-free remote working.
Not only do many employees feel hindered by their workplace technology, but IT teams also are frustrated by a lack of visibility into how and when issues occur. A proactive IT plan helps teams to respond to IT issues so that remote employees are not stuck in queues, holding support tickets, trying unsuccessful fixes, or just ignoring the tech problem — all while losing productivity.
Measuring digital experience
What’s next? While giving employees and teams the resources and autonomy to carry out their roles remotely, organisations do need to measure workplace productivity accurately to ensure that teams are performing at their best, and also to troubleshoot when productivity is not at expected levels.
Employee digital experiences need to be measurable, without acting as big brother, rather than being based on assumptions, directly monitoring what users are doing, and in the worst case, just looking at user reported tickets. We know that nearly 40% of digital issues aren’t even reported.
When measuring overall productivity of an organisation and ROI, granularity is key. Data should be available to understand costs of groups, for example, of remote workers, specific departments or technology splits, such as Macbooks and PCs. Moreover, results should be customised to provide numbers that denote, in monetary terms, how much losses in productivity are costing a business overall.
Systems like ours gather information from up to 10,000 data points every 15 seconds to help companies build and customise a 360° view of their digital footprint.
Action data and findings on productivity shortfalls
Armed with data that highlights which technology implementations are negatively affecting productivity, IT teams can investigate further to reveal what is causing an enterprise’s digital health score to drop and productivity costs to rise.
The remote worker may not consider the impact issues such as latency, memory, or disk space can have on an organisation’s digital health and bottom line; therefore, they may unwittingly accept these issues as the norm and fail to report them with the mindset of “too much hassle” or “enlisting IT support won’t make that much difference”.
To counteract this failure to recognise or report issues, large-scale data collection combined with automated issue discovery can enable IT and HR leaders to understand the health of technology deployed and prioritise improvements that will ultimately affect employee experience and productivity.
In summary, companies can help prevent “The Great Resignation” at their organisations by increasing productivity while keeping employees from being frustrated by their digital experience. This can be done through employee training and autonomy, improving the digital experience, and accurately measuring productivity to address shortcomings. Employers must also work to understand why productivity is low and address employee concerns.
About the Author
Elise Carmichael is the Chief Technology Officer of Lakeside Software. She is responsible for building and delivering the next generation of Digital Employee Experience solutions. She has over 20 years of experience working with enterprise organisations on high-tech, big data, and machine learning-based products. Before joining Lakeside, Elise held senior technology and product leadership roles at Functionize, Tricentis, QASymphony, and Mobiquity throughout the last 10 years.
Elise founded a non-profit in Florida to encourage more women to enter and stay employed in high-technology fields. She studied Computer Science and Music at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.